Appendix 1 (A1)

Gabriel (Jibreel): We quote, ‘The word is from Hebrew. It has been used in the Qur’an three times, twice in sura 2:97, 98 and once in sura 66:4. It refers to that heavenly force which brought the Holy Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (2:97). It has also been called Holy Spirit (Ruhul-Qudus) (16:102) and True Spirit (Ruhul-Ameen) (26:193). We cannot comprehend or conceive anything about this heavenly force, as only a Prophet would know. This force used to bring the revelation exactly as ordained, without any addition, alteration or mixture.’

Appendix 2 (A2)

Angel (Malaika): We quote: ‘The Qur’an also used Malaika as messengers in verse 22:75. This, of course, is one aspect of its functions and duties: otherwise they are those who direct affairs by Command (79:5), those who govern the events and disperse by Command (51:4). These forces are not given any will, independent power or discretion to do whatever they like – but they carry out the given task/responsibility as ordained by Allah.’

Appendix 3 (A3)

Devil (Iblees or Shaitan): We quote: ‘The Qur’an has termed Iblees and Shaitan as the two faces of the same coin. While narrating the story of Adam, the refusal to bow, then rebellion, disobedience, and finally the challenge to mislead mankind, all these are attributed to Iblees; and when it mentions the story of Adam’s fall, it is attributed to Shaitan (2:36, 7:11-20, 20:116-120). This shows that Iblees is the name used for a specific personality trait and the way this trait operates is called Shaitan. Iblees and Shaitan or pride and rebellion are in fact obstacles which hinder the progress of human Self (Nafs).’

Appendix 4 (A4)

Rakat: A rakat is a complete set of postures from standing to bending and then prostration. If a prayer is composed of 4 rakats then one must sit down after two rakats and then stand up to complete two more rakats, before sitting down to end the 4 rakats.

Appendix 5 (A5)

The words Rahman and Raheem originate from the same root (Ra-ha-meem). The word Rahamat is also from the same root, meaning ‘nourishment (manifest or hidden) provided to a person or to a thing, according to its need’. For example, the word Reham, which comes from the same root, means the mother’s womb where a baby receives nourishment without any effort on the part of the baby. The Qur’an additionally states that the process of our development is according to our deeds, and to achieve this we cannot rely on Allah’s grace alone but rather on what we do in our life by way of positive actions as well. With this background to the root of the words Rahman and Raheem, we can now look at the verses which include these two very important attributes of Allah, in order to understand their real meaning.

As an attribute of Allah the word Rahman appears in the Qur’an 55 times without any other attribute. The word Raheem appears 120 times, mostly combined with the attribute Gafur (forgiving), and a number of times with the word Taw-wa-bur (relenting). The words Rahman and Raheem come together six times outside of the formula which introduces all but one of the suras.

The qualification of Raheem with the attributes ‘forgiving’ or ‘relenting’ indicates that this type of mercy relates to our action and deeds. In other words, although Allah is prepared to forgive the mistakes in our deeds, the process of our development is according to our deeds. And so, simply praying for Allah’s mercy without any good deeds can have no real effect.

On the other hand, the word Rahman often appears on its own, without any qualification.  This attribute clearly relates to the meaning of nourishment or sustenance. In other words Allah gives benefits which sustains everyone irrespective of whether he does good deeds or not. For example: He gives air and water freely, and energy from the sun, in the form of heat and light, without which sustenance is impossible.

The verse references are given below for further study and understanding from the Qur’an.

Rahman (Beneficent): (2:163), (13:30), (17:110), (19:18, 26, 44, 45, 58, 61, 69, 75, 78, 85, 88, 91, 92, 93, 96), (20:5, 90, 108, 109), (21:26, 36, 42, 112), (25:26, 59, 60, 63), (26:5), (27:30), (36:11, 15, 23, 52), (41:2), (43:17, 19, 20, 33, 36, 45, 81), (50:33), (55:1), (59:22), (67:3, 19, 20, 29), (78:37, 38).

Raheem (Merciful): (2:37, 54, 128, 143, 160, 163, 173, 182, 192, 199, 218, 226), (3:31, 89, 129), (4:16, 23, 25, 29, 64, 96, 100, 106, 110, 129, 152), (5:3, 34, 39, 74), (5:98), (6:54, 145, 165), (7:151, 153, 167), (8:69, 70), (9:5, 27, 91, 99, 102, 104, 117, 118, 128), (10:107), (11:41, 90), (12:53, 64, 92, 98), (14:36), (15:49), (16:7, 18, 47, 110, 115, 119), (17:66), (21:83), (22:65), (24:5, 20, 22, 33, 62), (25:6, 70), (26:9, 68, 104, 122, 140, 159, 175, 191, 217), (27:11, 30), (28:16), (30:5), (32:6), (33:5, 24, 43, 50, 59, 73), (34:2), (36:5, 58), (39:53), (41:2, 32), (42:5), (44:42), (46:8), (48:14) (49:5, 12, 14), (52:28), (57:9, 28), (58:2, 12), (59:10, 22), (60:7, 12), (64:14), (66:1), (73:20).

Rahman and Raheem: (Beneficent and Merciful)  (1:1), (1:3), (2:163), (27:30), (41:2), (59:22).

Appendix 6 (A6)

The following section is based on chapter 3 of the book Truth or Consequences, by Dr. Alauddin Shabazz. There is a common belief, not only among the vast majority of the Muslims, but also to the people in the West, that the Prophet was illiterate, that is, he could neither read nor write. Verse 7:157 is often quoted in support of this view. A typical translation of the opening of the verse is as follows:

(7:157) Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (ummi) […]

The word ummi is thus usually translated as one who can neither read nor write.

However, it would be unfair to draw this conclusion without looking at other relevant verses which show significantly, that the Qur’an means something quite different than the literal translation of the word ummi as ‘illiterate’. For example, verse 62:2 states:

(62:2) He it is Who hath sent among the unlettered ones (ummiyyeen) a messenger of their own, to recite to them His revelations and to make them grow, and to teach them the Scripture and Wisdom, though before this they were indeed in manifest error.

This verse tells us that the Prophet was sent amongst the ummiyyeen ‘from among themselves’. The word ummiyyeen here refers to the whole population of Mecca at that time. Thus, a literal translation would again imply that the whole Arab population was illiterate or ummi. Even if we accept the word ummi as meaning ‘illiterate’, we cannot possibly say that the whole of the Arab population was illiterate, as we know for certain that this was not the case. The Qur’an itself mentions scribes among them, that is, people who could both read and write. What is true is that people were in manifest error simply because they, at that time, did not receive any revelation which instructed them to the way of life prescribed by Allah, and this revelation was recorded by means of the written word. For further clarification we look at verse 3:20 which states:

(3:20) And if they argue with thee, (O Muhammad) say: I have surrendered my purpose to Allah and (so have) those who follow me. And ask those who have received the Scripture aforetime, (meaning the Jews and Christians) as well as the unlettered people (ummiyyeen) (meaning the Arabs), ‘Have you (too) surrendered yourselves unto Him?’ If they surrender, then truly they are rightly guided, and if they turn away, then your duty is no more than to deliver the message. Allah sees all that is in (the hearts of) His servants.

In this verse the Qur’an gives clues into the usage of the terms ummi and ummiyyeen. Here the Qur’an is making a distinction between the people who have received the book i.e. the Jews and the Christians, from the Arabs who are addressed as ummiyyeen. The Prophet, who by this time had received the scripture, is asking everybody including the Jews and Christians, to submit to the guidance given by Allah.

Now consider verses 2:78,79:

(2:78, 79) Among them are unlettered folk who know the scripture not except from hearsay. They but guess. Therefore woe unto those who write the scripture with their own hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for what their hands have written, and woe unto them what they earn thereby.

In these verses (2:78,79), we find that some Jews during the time of Musa are termed ummiyyeen, since they had no knowledge of the scripture. Although the verses 2:28,79 do not directly mentions Jews, the reference to them becomes clear if we read the few verses that precede it. Further, the very same people pretended to know and are charged by Allah with ‘writing a book’ with their ‘own hands’. Thus, they could not have been ‘unlettered’ in the conventional sense but only in the sense of not having knowledge of the scriptures, and, therefore, lacking Allah’s guidance. Hence, these two verses definitely establish the real meaning of ummi or ummiyyeen –  as used in the Qur’an – as ‘scripturally illiterate’ and ‘people with no knowledge of the Scripture’ respectively

The following two verses state that the Prophet, prior to his receiving revelation, had no knowledge of the scripture (hence he was a ummi), and Allah was going to give him this knowledge.

(29:48) And thou (O Muhammad) wast not a reader of any Scripture before it, nor didst thou write it with thy right hand, for then might those have doubted who follow falsehood.

In this verse the Qur’an is stating quite clearly that the Prophet, prior to the receipt of revelation himself, had not read any scripture nor written anything on the subject and, therefore, by implication was scripturally unlettered, that is, one who had not previously read any scripture.  It does not follow that he was ‘unlettered’ in the general sense of the word.

(87:6) We shall make thee read (O Muhammad) so that thou shalt not forget.

This verse is very significant as Allah is taking it on Himself to impart scriptural knowledge to the Prophet by sending revelation to him. This does not mean to teach him how to read and write in the conventional sense. He in turn has to impart that knowledge to his people. Hence the statement that the Prophet will not forget the revelations sent to him.

Thus, the Qur’an gives enough evidence to show that ummi signifies one who has no knowledge of the scripture. The Prophet is referred to as ummi in the Qur’an because he had not read any scriptures prior to receiving revelation himself and, therefore, had no scriptural knowledge. Similarly, the Arabs were called ummiyyeen because they, as a people, had not received any revelation prior to the Qur’an, and therefore could not lead their life according to Allah’s guidance. In other words, both the Prophet and the Arabs were ‘scripturally illiterate’, not illiterate in the general sense of the word. Thus in using the words ummi and ummiyyeen the Qur’an is not referring to one’s general illiteracy but to one’s scriptural illiteracy.

The Prophet is no longer among us, but the Qur’an is there as Allah’s book of guidance. If we do not devote ourselves to the understanding of the Qur’an and to following its instructions then as far as the Qur’an is concerned we are ummi or ‘scripturally illiterate’. Simply reciting the book without understanding what it means, in effect, leads to scriptural illiteracy, as we are unable to follow the guidance given in the Qur’an.


Exposition of the Qur’an, by Gulam Ahmed Parwez Tolu-E-Islam Trust (Regd) 25B Gulberg, Lahore-11, Pakistan.p. 11.

Truth or Consequences, by Dr. Alauddin Shabazz. Chapter 3, pages 31-34. Publisher: New Mind Productions, Inc. P.O. Box 5185 Jersey City, NJ 07305.